LONDON, August 16- The world athletics governing body blocked the publication of a report that showed as many as a third of the world’s top athletes admitted using banned performance-enhancing techniques, The Sunday Times reported.
The authors of the report told the British newspaper that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) blocked publication of the study, which was carried out four years ago.
However, the IAAF responded by saying there was nothing new about these revelations.
“The IAAF’s delaying publication for so long without good reason is a serious encroachment on the freedom of publication,” the University of Tuebingen in Germany, which carried out the research, said in a statement according to the paper.
Researchers from the university were given access to elite athletes at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea and concluded in their research that between 29 and 34 percent of the 1,800 competitors at the championships had violated anti-doping rules in the previous 12 months.
“These findings demonstrate that doping is remarkably widespread among elite athletes, and remains largely unchecked despite current biological testing programmes,” the report concluded.
The IAAF responded by issuing a statement denying it had suppressed publication of the document.
“This is not a new story, having first been raised on German TV in 2013, and those concerns were addressed by the IAAF at the time,” said the statement.
“The study in question was a social science based survey conducted by WADA and a team of researchers at the Athletes’ village in Daegu.
“The purpose of the study was to assess the reliability of potential new methods of evaluating the prevalence of doping in sport using more of a social science approach (randomised-response survey).
“The survey was intended to be extended to multi-sport events and no publication was ever evoked.”
The study was funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), but they gave the IAAF power to veto publication in exchange for access to the athletes at Daegu, WADA confirmed to The Sunday Times on Friday.
In the months after conducting the study, the researchers were told to sign a confidentiality agreement to prevent them speaking out about the findings but they have now criticised the IAAF for suppressing the report.
“The IAAF is blocking it. I think they are stakeholders with Wada and they just blocked the whole thing,” lead author Rolf Ulrich told The Sunday Times.
– ‘serious reservations’ –
However, the IAAF refuted suggestions any veto ever took place.
“The IAAF has never vetoed publication of this article,” it said in the statement.
“The IAAF does however have serious reservations as to the interpretation of the results made by the research group as confirmed by high-profile experts in social science who reviewed the publication on our request.
“The IAAF submitted those concerns to the research group but has never heard back from them.”
Some of the key figures from the report were leaked in the United States in 2013 but the IAAF continued to prevent full publication.
In early August, the newspaper published a separate report on a leaked database of 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes that revealed “extraordinary” levels of doping, and sent shock waves through the sporting world.
The IAAF hit back at those allegations describing them as “sensationalist and confusing”.
Meanwhile, German state broadcaster ARD reported Sunday that the IAAF had recently demanded explanations from the Russian Athletics Federation concerning a list of athletes accused of doping including Olympic 800m champion Maria Savinova.
A week before the world championships get underway in Beijing, ARD also claimed that the head of the Russian federation’s medical department, Sergei Portugalov, and three national coaches are facing life bans from the sport.
Last December, an ARD-documentary “Secret Doping Dossier: How Russia produces its Winners” alleged systematic doping in Russian athletics.